Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

April 5, 2013 5 Stars, Angels, Cynthia Hand, Paranormal, This Is How You Do a Love Triangle 8 ★★★★★

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly # 1
Published by HarperTeen on January 4, 2011
Genres: Angels, Paranormal
Pages: 435
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

“It’s like you’re…something else.”

Simply put, I loved Unearthly. It is the perfect blend of a wonderful young heroine, two believable love interests (an area where so many other writers stumble), great supporting characters, action, fantasy, and romance. OK, enough raving for the moment.

In Unearthly, sixteen year-old Clara is Quartarius – the daughter of a half-angel mother and a human father. All angels have a life Purpose, and Clara’s is to rescue an unknown teenage boy from a forest fire. Clara knows only the location, so she, her mother, and younger brother move from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming so Clara can meet the boy and fulfill her Purpose. She soon meets Christian, high school stud and the boy from her visions. The attraction is instantaneous and, fortunately for Clara, apparently mutual. Just one minor stumbling block – Christian’s girlfriend.

Clara struggles to fulfill her angelic obligations while experiencing all the travails and thrills of a normal teenage girl. She has a very close bond with her mother, and she frequently questions her mother about their shared angel biology. Her mother, Margaret, is forthcoming with some information, but she is keeping some secrets which frustrates Clara to no end.

About those love interests… So often, YA writers throw in a love triangle that really is not a triangle at all – it’s very clear who the heroine is meant to be with. In Unearthly, we get a true love triangle, with two very different boys who appeal to Clara for very different reasons. It’s easy to imagine her with either of them, which is a clear demonstration of Cynthia Hand’s writing skill. Throughout the story, I wavered in my own choice for Clara, just as she did.

This book is not just about teenage romance. It’s got wonderful angel lore, several tension-filled scenes, and some major surprises, the last of which truly shocked and thrilled me. Clara is faced with a final choice, both of which potentially involved devastating consequences. These scenes were so real and so powerful, and I felt so strongly for Clara as she made her fateful decision.

I love when I discover a series late – it means I can snap up the sequels without waiting, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this series plays out.

Review posted at Goodreads and Amazon


8 Responses to “Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand”

  1. Kelly W

    Great review! Aside from the rare diamond in the rough, angel stories just…aren’t very good. I don’t know why, the potential is there with all the mythology and ethereal beauty, but most actual executions fall painfully flat. I was pleasantly surprised with Unearthly being an exception.

    I love starting a series when all the books have been released, also! I’ve read Hallowed, but I still need to get my butt in gear and read Boundless. I don’t know what’s been holding me up lately, I certainly want to.

    -Kelly @ PaperFantasies

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      I was surprised, too, by just how much I enjoyed Unearthly. I’ve actually read the whole series, but I just realized that I never posted my review of Unearthly. I thought Hallowed was the weakest of the three, and Boundless was a nice comeback. I hope you read it soon!


  2. The Book Faerie

    I actually read some this books a few years ago then I put it down and never tried to read it again, but I think I might have to now 🙂 I like what you said about the obvious love triangles, those really get to me and reduce how much I like a book sometimes. They have also kind of made me vary of books with love triangles which is not a good thing as it seem to be in almost every book lately.
    Great review!
    -Happy Reading !TheBookFaerie

  3. Bookworm1858

    I mostly liked the love triangle here, which is something that really stood out to me from this book-I like Christian although I know most bloggers seem to prefer Tucker. Interested to see your thoughts on Hallowed!

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